Old School 101: Jeff Bottema

I went over to VSI headquarters a few weeks ago (they’re in Cerritos, CA) to have lunch with team manager/product developer/marketing ace Pete Dylewski, and look who I ran into – Jeff Bottema.If the name doesn’t ring a bell (and I’m guessing for 98% of you guys reading this that it doesn’t), Jeff was one of the originals. He and Toby Henderson came up riding for Raleigh together in the mid 1970s. Jeff also became pretty legendary for his Bottema line of forks, essentially the modern day equivalent of S&M Pitchfork XLT’s or Odyssey’s Race forks. From what he and Toby told me, Jeff was on a mission to find some of his old DG and Raleigh stuff and see what it was worth on eBay. With his background, and the crazy old school stuff he had sitting in his garage, I have a feeling that Jeff is a pretty rich guy by now. Here’s a look at just a few of the things he had brought over to show Toby…

I didn’t recognize Jeff at first, but when Toby pointed to the fork leg sticker, it all became clear… Check out Jeff’s old DG kit; man, I wonder how much that went for on eBay… I bet it was four figures, easy…  credit: James Ayres

This was the bike Jeff raced on back in the day. From what he and Toby told me, the Raleigh guys took BMX as seriously back then as they do road bike stuff today. That frame was hand made, using state-of-the-art tubing, and was totally a one-off bike. Check out where the fork dropouts are on the fork legs – crazy!

If you had super eagle eyes, you’d be able to read that sticker at the top of the down tube – “Guaranteed built with Reynolds butted tubing…” And Jeff autographed it; this is another one of those deals that went for four figures… On second thought, I wonder if he even sold it. Like I said, that was a one-off deal…

Check out the brake bracket on the seat stays. It might be custom, but man, that’s ugly…

The dropouts were one of the most shocking things on the bike; they were actually normal sized!

This is a great example of how things come full circle. Jeff’s bike (and many like it back then) used a Euro BB.

The chrome’s got some wear on it, but for being almost 30 years old, we’d say those don’t look that bad (the chrome plating, that is).

Original equipment.